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Address delivered by Ex-Lieutenant Governor, 
W. A. Northcott, of Springfield, Illinois, at Chicago, 
February 11th, 1909. 


There are two great epochs in the history of the American Republic. 
One is the nation-building epocli and the other is the natiourpreserving 
epoch. The first had its scene of action in the midst of the thirteen 
Colonies on the Atlantic sea-board and its central figure was George 
Washington. The second epoch had its principal stage of conflict in 
the Mississippi Valley and its hero was Abraham Lincoln. 

We recall the history of the early settlements of Jamestown and 
I'lymouth Rock. We see the growth of thirteen colonies peopled by the 
liberty-loving Anglo-Saxons. We stand with the throngs in the old town 
meetings on the commons of Boston and hear the thunder-bolts hurled 
by Samuel Adams at the tyranny of the British. We again hear the 
matchless eloquence of Patrick Henry in the halls of the Virginia as- 
sembly, and the continental congress. Like mountain peaks loom up 
the figures of Washington and Franklin. We watch in the morning 
twilight for the coming of British regulars along the streets in the 
quiet villages of Lexington and Concord. We stand amid the glories 
of Bunker Hill and wait with Washington and his barefooted soldiers in 
the snow at Valley Forge, and applaud his victory at Trenton. We wit- 
ness Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga and Cornwallis' at Yorktown. We 
stand in the city of Philadelphia and hear the old liberty bell peal out 
the birth of liberty -upon a new continent; and hear the plaudits of the 
world at the immortal words of the Declaration of Independence, as 
penned by the liberty-loving Jefferson. We see a new naton born, dedi- 
cated to freedom and constitutional government; created by a people 
whose forefathers, upon the plains at Runnymede, had wrested from 
King John the Magna Charta, the bulwark of Anglo-Saxon liberty; a 
nation that was to exemplify to all history the truth, that all governments 
derive their just j^owers from the consent of the governed. 

Nations are net made, they grow. In the beginning of this republic 
our forefathers left two great questions for future generations to solve. 
Ideas are things, and it was a contest upon these two great ideas that 
moulded the bullets that were fired in the civil war. As the teachings 
of Voltaire and Rousseau culminated in the French Revolution, so the 
discussion of these two great questions ended only at Appomattox. 

The first found an early expression in the Kentucky and Virginia 
resolutions of 1798 and 1799, inspired by Jefferson. They formulated the 
contention that the right of the State was above the right of. the Fede- 
ration. Jefferson, the liberty-loving Jefferson, who had just come from 
under the shadows of monarchy, knew no centralization except the centrali- 
zation of personal gOA'^ernraent. He did not fully undei'stand that in a 
representative government the greatest danger is not in centralization, 
but in disintegration. He had not come to realize that the greatest tyranny 
is the tyranny of the chief of a petty tribe, and that in empire there is 

liberty. That in a great representative government where all power comes 
from the people, there is no danger of centralization. Calhoun, as the 
disciple of Jefferson,, carried this idea to its logical conclusion and advo- 
cated the right of nullfication and secession, and closely connected this 
question with the other great question of human slavery. This contest 
brought into action the transcendent eloquence of Daniel -Webster, whose 
defense of the supremacy of our federal government will always be a 
part of our national history. It found its most dramatic incident when 
Andrew Jackson faced South Carolina in its nullification and, with up- 
lifted hand, swore by the Eternal that the right of the Federation was 
above the right of any state. And thus commenced the contest that ended 
only in civil war. 

Here upon the prairies of Illinois more than seventy years ago ap- 
peared the fir(3t cloud of the impending storm. The death of Lovejoy at 
Alton battling for the liberty of speech. and for human freedom, inspired 
the oratory of Wendell Phillips upon the commons of Boston, whose 
words i-ang out in favor of liberty like the call to battle. His death 
lent strength to the noble Garrison in Massachuetts. It was with John 
Brown Avben he died at Harper's Ferry. It inspired the pen of Horace 
Greeley, whose words lighted the fires that finally melted away forever 
the chains of slavery. 

In the midst of this storm came the colossal figure of Abraham Lin- 
coln, "the grandest man who has come to us on the tide of time." His 
origin was as humble as that of the lowly Nazarene who bore his cross 
on the far-off shores of Gallilee. As a solitary mountain peak towers 
above the plains, so stood Lincoln above his environments. The cen- 
turies will ask of him as they have asked of Shakespeare, from whence 
came his greatness, and out of the Eternal will come the answer that 
God gave it. 

The first real Americans were those who crossed the Appalachian 
mountains into the Mississippi Valley. Thus came Andrew Jackson and 
Henry Clay and thus came the parents of Abraham Lincoln. This host of 
pioneers from Virginia and the Carolinas into Kentucky and Tennessee 
and thence into Illinois, made the back-ground for the figure of Lincoln 
and they were the men in whose midst was fought out the second great 
American conflict. 

The stars shine upon no greater people than those who live here in 
the valley of the Mississippi river, greater than the Tigris or Euphrates; 
greater than the Nile, that flowed by the homes of the Ptolemies and 

-Pharoahs, and upon whose banks sit grand, gloomy and peculiar, the ever- 
lasting pyramids; greater than the Tiber of ancient Rome, from whose 
banks the imperial Caesars ruled the world; greater than the Rhine, in 
v/hose valley contended the Teuton and the Gaul for the supremacy of 
Europe and the world; greater than all these because it flows by the 
home of freemen. And Illinois stretching from the Great Lakes on the 
north, to the very heart of the Southland, became the keystone of this 

. valley and here lived and wrought Abraham Lincoln. 

"Not without thy wondrous story, 

Illinois. Illinois, 
Can be writ thy nations glory, 

Illinois, Illinois, 
On the record of thy years 
Abraham Lincoln's name appears, 
Grant and Logan and our tears, 
Illinois, Illinois." 

Lincoln was just entering public life as a member of the Illino-is 
Legislature at the formative period of this government. Chief Justice 
Marshall was j^et breathing into our Constitution, the breath of a broader 
National life. Those giants, Webster and Calhoun, were battling over the 
relation of the states to the Federal Government. Webster's great reply 
to Hayne was ringing throughout the country like a call to battle. This 
great speech built the breast-works behind which the Union soldiers fought 
from ISCl to 'Go. Lincoln caught the inspiration of the times and he be- 
lieved with Washington and Hamilton that the right of the Federation 
was above the right of any state. These great statesmen were aristocrats 
but Lincoln was one of the people and put into practice what Jefferson 
taught in theory — equality of all men before the law. Without being 
an aristocrat, Lincoln believed in the supremacy of the national govern- 
ment. Believing in the equality of men, he denied Jefferson's doctrine of 
state sovereignty. Lincoln became the champion and embodiment of two 
great American ideas — liberty and national supremacy. He was a great 
admirer and follower of Henry Clay and believed in the doctrine of a 
protective tariff and other great Whig principles which were inherited 
by the Republican party and which have finally come to be the belief of 
a Nation. 

Lincoln was a politician in the truest and best sense of the term. A 
statesman understands the theory of government and a politician the 
practice of government. Lincoln was both a statesman and a politician. 
There can be no successful government without party, and no successful 
i^arty without organization and no organization without politicians. When 
Lincoln was a member of the Illinois Legislature he .ioined in a com- 
bination with eight others which became known as the "Long Nine." 
These members were from Sangamon County and became the early dis- 
ciples of that priiiciple of "log-rolling" by which they voted for every 
measure by which they could trade for votes for the removal of the State 
Capital from Vandalia to Spiiagfield. Lincoln thus became the head and 
front of one of the most marked log-rolling schemes known to Illinois 
history and he was successful. As a politician he was always fair and 
honorable and never struck below the belt. 

Lincoln's great power with the people lay in the strength of his 
expression. His words were as easily understood by the people amongst 
whom he lived as the call of the bird to its mate. As true to nature 
ae the roar of the wild beast or the gentle murmur of falling waters. His 
thought and speech was as direct as the lightning and his humor, as gen- 
tle and wholesome as the laughter of a little child. His Gettysburg speech 
and his inaugual addresses are unexcelled classics. 

The hour having atrilck, the great stage ready, and the man come, the 
curtain rises upon the debates .between the ' '.'Little Giant" Stephen A. 
Douglas and the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. Here in Illinois 
with her prairies so open that truth could And no hiding place, the people 
listened to the immortal words of Lincoln in that great debate and they 
caught the inspiration of liberty. The torch was lighted and the fire of 
freedom spread throughout the length and breadth of the land. 

When Lincoln appeared at the great meeting at Cooper Institute, 
New York, he was practically unknown in the East. He arrived hurriedly 
from a late train and appeared dusty and ill-attired. His gaunt body was 
covered wtli ill-fitting olothe.s; the sleeves of his coat were short and 
his trousers came nearly to his knees. The Chairman, ashamed of his 
appearance, threw him at the meeting like you would throw a boot-jack 
at a cat, He said; "Ladies and Gentlemen, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois." 
Then Lincoln spake as never man spoke before, on this great question 
of human slavery, With a logic as incisive as steel, he analyzed this 
great question from the making of the Constitution up to that time. 
His words were as mellow as the cadences of the Kalavalla. Here his 
great power of direct speech illuminated the question as it had never 
been illumed before. When he had concluded his masterly effort the 
cultured East had bowed down in homage to the simple pioneer that the 
West had already lifted up on its shoulders. Years afterwards, Mr. Lin- 
coln told a friend that at this meeting for the first tirne he thought that 
one day he might become President of the United States. 

Bunker Hill, Saratoga and Yorktown made us free from the tyranny 
of kings but it was not untilthe boys in blue marched with Grant to 
Appomattax and the Emancipation Proclamation came from the hands of 
Lincoln like the voice of God into the grave of Lazarus, were all of our 
people absolutely free. Then for the first time were the theories of the 
Declaration of Independence made absolute facts. 

Then the storm which had been gathering for more than half a 
century broke with all its fury and violence. The first gun fired on 
E'ort Sumpter was the voice of destiny calling on the young republic to do 
battle for its life. No great array was iui the field to answer to the chal- 
lenge. It was not to be a mortal combat between the equipped and 
mobilized armies of two great foreign powers; but under the dark cloud 
of impending war, loyal citizens asked themselves? "Would the nation die," 
or "would the nation live?" By their firesides, with prattling children 
upon their knees, with the tearful eyes of wives upon them, men sought 
to resolve their duty. The call was answered from the " plow, the work- 
shop, the hill and dale, from country and "city the people flocked to arms. 

"They came as the waves come when armies are landed. 

They came as the winds come when navies are stranded." 

And above the thunder of the muttering storm was heard the voica 
of a lion-hearted people, crying to their leader: 

"We are coming. Father Abraham, one hundred thousand strong." 

You have read of those days — how the firing on Fort Sumpter 
aroused the patriotism of the people. You have read of the news of the 


defeats at Bull Rvin and Chancellorsvllle; how the splendid army of the 
Potomac wasted with disease and Inaction. Then it belonged to the 
soldiers from the corniields of the west to look, with Grant, into the 
fiery mouths of the cannon at Fort Donnelson, and give to a faltering 
cause the courage of a great victory gained. It was their stubborn 
courage that chfinged defeat into victory at Shiloh. They waited with 
Grant in front of Vicksburg until that place gave way before their grim 
determination. And then came the glorious news of Gettysburg; how 
Meade threw shrapnel into the ranks of Lee's defeated legions. You 
have read of Logan at Atlanta; how after McPherson had fallen he rode 
to the front with his long, black hair streaming in the breeze, his eyes 
flashing, hs sword drawn, that caught its brightness from the princely 
gleaming of his soul, "a mailed warrior, a plumed knight," who plucked 
victorj^ from defeat, even, at the cannon's mouth, and with the feroci'ty 
of a tiger, compelled submission from bended knees. There may have been 
better trained generals, but there never was a braver soldier than John 
A. Logan. He was the hero volunteer soldier of that war. 

Then Grant, v.'ho never lost a battle, joined in the last death struggle 
with Lee in the Wilderness; and then was heard the glad acclaim of the 
people,, when the bottom dropped out of armed rebellion upon the field 
of Appomattox. 

The soldiers from the cornfields of the west joined in the grand re- 
view at Washington, marching down the streets of the National Capital, 
cheered by all Christendom. And no braver, better soldiers ever formed 
the phalanx of Caesar or followed the eagles of Napoleon. 

Then was lifted into the forum of the constitution to shine forever 
and ever like a star, the great principle of equality of all men before 
the law. Then the shackles fell from four million slaves and they were 
lifted from chattels to the rights of American citizenship. Then the Mis- 
sissippi in its joyous march to the gulf, and from the gulf to the sea, 
told no story of Missouri, sang no song of Illinois. Ini it was not 
heard the name of any state, but in that ceaseless murmur between two 
great oceans was heard a grand anthem to the American Republic; in it 
was heard the voice of a nation proclaiming the will of the people. It 
now flows by the home of no slave and no bondsman. 

Throagh the blood and tears and suffering of that great war, there 
was breathed into this nation the breath of a broader national life. Human 
slavery was abolished, state sovereignty was dead, and the liberty of 
thought, of speech, and of publication were established. 

Standing with a new generation today, looking back, we see the 
clouds of war lifting. We see our republic entering upon a career of 
progress unequalled in the history of nations, and yet in the forenoon of 
its greatness. Seeing all these things, remembering the precious price 
that has been paid for this heritage, let us not forget the words of the 
immortal Lincoln as he stood upon the famous field of Gettysburg: 
"Here let us highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain; 
that the nation shall, undei- God, have a new birth of freedom and that 
the government of the people, for the people and by the people shall 
not perish from the earth." 

7 J 

The time honored saying that a prophet is not without honor save 
in his own country was not true of Mr. Lincoln. The people amongst 
whom he lived all loved, revered and honored him. What he said and 
did and was when in their midst they have cherished as the Hebrew 
tribes the tradition of Abraham, and dying, have bequeathed them as a 
rich legacy to thoir children. 

There is no more pathetic scene in all history than when upon his 
departure to assume the duties of Chief Magistrate of the great nation on 
the eve of impending war his home people gathered to bid him a last 
farewell, and to offer their prayers to God for his safety. In that dark 
hour he reached out to touch the hand of his people like a little child 
in the darkness reaches out to touch the hand of its mother. He sprang 
from the common people and in all his sorrows and battles their touch 
gave him strength and courage, as the touch of Mother Earth gave 
strength and victory to Antaeos of old. , . 

On this Centennial Anniversary the people of Springfield and of 
Illinois with one mind and one heart join with all the people of this 
Republic in paying a loving tribute to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln and 
America — names as inseparable and as immortal in history as the names 
of Alexander and Greece, of Caesar and Rome, of Napoleon and France. 

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